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Circle City Readers will provide 1,000 Marion County students high-dosage tutoring in evidence-based reading skills

IPS Supt. Dr. Aleesia Johnson addresses a media briefing about a new initiative to boost literacy.

Mayor Joe Hogsett, in partnership with the City-County Council, RISE INDY, Indianapolis Public Schools, and MSD Warren Township, announced the launch of the Circle City Readers initiative to expand literacy through high-dosage tutoring.

“When it comes to early literacy, we know the pandemic was incredibly tough on kids — especially those in vulnerable communities,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That’s why the City is investing $1 million of federal American Rescue Plan funding in support of equitable solutions to what is one of the most foundational concerns for a community.” 

The program will serve 1,000 students, including those in Indianapolis Public Schools, public charter schools, and MSD Warren Township in grades K-3. Circle City Readers tutors will rely on evidence-based reading strategies, which will complement the work already happening in the city’s public schools to ensure students have the support they need to further their foundational reading skills. 

“We are proud to participate in Circle City Readers because we know that the additional high-dosage literacy tutoring support will not only strengthen reading comprehension, it will also boost confidence and build important learning skills in our students,” said Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson. “This initiative aligns with our district’s literacy focus and our goal of creating equitable access for all students, including our most vulnerable scholars.”

The program will allow tutors to work with students in small groups several times per week. Once funding is available, a program director will be hired so the program can begin in early 2023.

“Early literacy has long been a top priority for MSD Warren Township, and we are excited to leverage our resources and those at the Indiana Department of Education to address this important issue for our community,” said Dr. Tim Hanson, Superintendent for MSD Warren Township. “We know the Circle City Readers initiative will fit in well with those goals.”

The initiative was brought to Indianapolis by RISE INDY, an education advocacy organization, after seeing successful implementation of similar programs in Oakland, California. The goal of the program is to increase literacy as part of building a better city, spurred on by partnership between public and nonprofit entities. The programming for Circle City Readers will be designed and researched by RISE INDY in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation.

“The RISE INDY team has said before that literacy is finally having its moment, and it’s not a moment too soon,” said Jasmin Shaheed-Young, RISE INDY President and CEO. “Reading is fundamental, and far too many of our students here in Indianapolis are not prepared for success in life because they fall behind early on. We are grateful to the mayor for leading the way on this program and to leaders in Oakland for inspiring this initiative.”

The one-year program will be funded by $1 million from the City’s American Rescue Plan allocation unanimously approved by the City-County Council. The Office of Education Innovation will administer the fund, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee will serve as the fiscal agent.